A husband and wife who served as fire chief and selectman in a small western Maine town were arrested Friday after an investigation found misappropriated funding and equipment in the volunteer fire department.

Former Sumner Fire Chief Robert Stewart, 68, and former Selectman Kelly Stewart, 57, were charged with one felony count each of theft by unauthorized taking, a jail official said. The exact amount of misappropriated money was unclear on Saturday. Both were released on $500 bail.

The arrests came after weeks of rumor and uncertainty in the Oxford County town of just under 1,000 people. Selectmen contacted the county sheriff’s office in May to report allegations against the Stewarts and hired an outside investigator to examine them for the town.

That came after an April 25 meeting in which Robert Stewart resigned as fire chief. At the same time, Kelly Stewart left a secretary position in the fire department but kept her selectman seat. Robert Stewart denied stealing or hiding equipment then and said he was leaving after 18 years as chief because he was “tired of feeling like the bad guy,” meeting minutes say.

At another meeting on July 25, selectmen exited an executive session and accepted Kelly Stewart’s resignation from the board, according to the Lewiston Sun Journal.

Mary Ann Haxton, the head selectman, told attendees that the report from the investigator, lawyer Matt Tarasevich of Bernstein Shur in Portland, would soon be available to the public. She would not summarize it, but she said it focused on misappropriated money and equipment in the fire department and that Kelly Stewart “failed her duties to the town,” the newspaper reported.

Reached Saturday morning, Haxton confirmed the Friday arrests but still declined to discuss details of the report. The Oxford County Sheriff’s office did not respond to an email seeking further details. A call to Robert Stewart’s gun shop in Sumner was not immediately returned.

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after time at the Kennebec Journal. He lives in Augusta, graduated from the University of Maine in 2012 and has a master's degree from the University...